A Warranty takes two forms in Australia: the Warranty required by law and the optional (voluntary) warranty a manufacturer may give.
Warranty laws in Australia
The Australian law provides a basic level of protection for all consumers by enforcing certain responsibilities on all businesses selling goods or services. Under the Trade Practices Act (www.accc.gov.au) there are these key clauses:
- Provided you make it clear what you expect of your shutters, they must be supplied so they are fit for that purpose
- The goods must be of a quality and performance that matches the price and description of the goods
- The goods must match the description or sample given to you before purchase
- Services related to installing your shutters, must be carried out with due care and skill.
In addition to the above, shutter manufacturers may give a voluntary Warranty which usually provides a higher level of service when problems arise after a sale. They use this as a selling point but are basically doing what the law expects them to do anyway.
Remember, the shutter maker’s responsibility under the law is limited to their portion of the work. This means they must guarantee the materials and workmanship to be free of defects up till the time someone else receives and installs them. Whoever installs your shutter (usually a retailer of blinds, shutters and curtains) must take responsibility for handling the goods carefully and installing them properly.
Based on the law, a retailer (the installer) can fairly be expected to take responsibility for:
- Measuring your opening correctly
- Advising you on the correct type of shutter materials and finish, the best arrangement of panels and hinges or tracking.
- Placing your shutter order with the manufacturer and handling the manufactured goods carefully so they are not damaged
- Installing the shutter(s) with skill and care.
- Charging fairly and as quoted.
So the most important task for the consumer who wants shutters is to find a good manufacturer and a good retailer working together. Fortunately, as with most things in life, good tends to match up with good! So a good manufacturer will have a network of good retailers with whom they will entrust their reputation for quality shutters.
Shutter manufacturers often make Warranty offers a big selling point.
For example, “25 years Warranty” in big type, sounds like the best offer money could buy, don’t you think? Unfortunately this is an easy promise to make because if you read the fine print you’ll probably find the guarantee is for material only. In other words, the manufacturer is not guaranteeing the parts of the shutter that are more likely to cause you problems-
- Poor initial measure and design of your shutters, causing poor fit and functionality.
- Breakdown of hinges and sliding mechanisms, causing shutters to be unfit for use.
Remember, it is the retailer’s job to ensure correct measure, design and installation of your shutters.
Finally, ensure there is a clear definition of the meaning of a “defect” from your shutter manufacturer. Make sure you understand the definition clearly and agree with it, otherwise too much is left to personal opinion. Allow a proper amount of time to discuss your shutters with your selected retailer. Your input is very important so the job can be done to your expectations. For a good definition of “defect” see the Open Shutters website.
For a list of recommended shutter retailers ask a friend who has had a great experience with shutter buying or see our section on Shutter suppliers.